The Baked Potato by Firewire

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
The Depth Test

baked_potato_boards.pngIt appears the zenith of grovel boards has been reached. Sometime in the last two years boards designed for 1 to 3 foot waves reached their most extreme dimensions: widest, shortest, thickest. And now, with the knowledge gained from that experimentation the pendulum seems to be swinging back ever so slightly.

In 2012 I reviewed the Sweet Potato by Firewire which at the time was both the shortest board I'd ever ridden and the widest (5'3” x 23”). At the time it was a revelation. The accepted wisdom said that the only functional craft in one foot waves was a longboard, yet here was a board half the length of a regular longboard catching waves with just as much ease.

It may have been a revelation yet it wasn't without its hangups; the Sweet Potato caught waves easily but the outsized dimensions restricted performance once upon them. The latest potato out of the Firewire factory is the Baked Potato, it serves the same role but has refined it in certain areas.

The most obvious change is the planshape. Where the Sweet Potato was bulbous the Baked Potato has some semblance of a traditional surfboard shape. The nose is semi-pointed and there's a tad more curve in the outline. The width has been brought in a touch and, most importantly, some volume taken out of the rails.

As with all super short boards the Baked Potato almost forces the rider to crouch while riding. Not a full crouch a la Dekka Hynd riding finless, but hunched nonetheless, weight distributed evenly across the centre of the board. In part this is due to the short rail line but also the necessary frantic movements needed to get going in the small stuff.

One of the Baked Potato's distinguishing features are the deep double concave through the back half of the board. Between the concaves are a pronounced vee running down the stringer like a spine. It's the key for transforming frantic pumping into lift and down the line speed. The Baked Potato is a frenetically fast little board.

Turning, however, is not one of the board's strong suits. There's very little rocker so it doesn't naturally lead into turns. Put it on edge and the board loses speed quickly, often decelerating towards a bogged rail. There must be a sweet spot there...somewhere, though after a month of riding it still remained elusive. Replacing rail turns with quick pivoting snaps avoided the worst of the flaw, the Baked Potato likes to be handled with a lighter touch. Riding it as a thruster instead of a quad put some predictability back into its turns, but unfortunately with three fins it was slower and that ain't what's wanted in a groveller.

The difference in performance between quad and thruster is obvious on the Baked Potato. It was more centred in thruster mode, more stable, but undoubtedly slower. As a quad there was an “information gap,” as Steve Shearer calls it, when going rail to rail. A split second where the centre line couldn't be felt and the board needed to be piloted on instinct; you needed to trust that the slip would turn to grip and henceforth into speed. It's a feeling you can learn to like.

The Baked Potato is a good board for tiny wave surfing, for building speed on waves that would otherwise struggle to project a surfer shoreward. Just keep it tilted toward the horizontal and let the rails skim not sink.

Comments

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 1:28pm

hahaha, good review Stu.

Is that a concaved deck? Looks like it in the photes.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 1:30pm

No worries Steve, I steal from everyone but give credit where it's due.

Nah, it's a flat deck with bevelled rails.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 1:33pm

Hmmm put a big single in and kneel down?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 1:34pm

Ha ha...it kinda looks like an old Crozier Slab, doesn't it?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 1:42pm

just fyi I probably stole that line from someone on the internet somewhere.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 2:00pm

Tell me I didn't read that!

bryonsurfer's picture
bryonsurfer's picture
bryonsurfer Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 1:56pm

Snapped two of these boards in as many years - they're unbelievable to ride but flimsy and break really easily.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 2:01pm

Really? I rode mine almost everyday for a month and there's nary a dint in it. It feels a like a stout bastard of a board. Also, being so short I figured there'd be less forces to cause it to break.

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 2:01pm

I am 6'4" and 100kgs and I ride a 5'9" Baked Potato in quad config and its freakin awesome.

Getting the fin setup right is a big part of overcoming some of the issues you listed (bogging / catching rails).

Put a set of these in - http://www.futuresfins.com/en-us/controller-fiberglass-smoke-1200-210-40... and see how you go.

Head high surf and under and you can't have more fun.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 2:21pm

I know Cory from Cory Surfboards in Torquay raves about those fins. I haven't used them. Needed FCS set up anyway.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 2:05pm

Stu have you experimented with fins? I have a 5'2" Pier Pony style board and fins make a huge difference from C Drives (which tightens it up a lot) to MR twins and even going 5 with the guitar pick. These types of boards are fun as they are fast right off the bat and a challenge to control. Can be frustrating as well.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 2:20pm

Yeah Memla, I first rode the BP with a set of FCS H2 quads but they were just too loose. The cant and lack of rake on the rear fins didn't match the board. I then left the H2 rear fins in and put SF4 front fins in. I settled on SF4 fronts and rear fins by Shapers. Stealth Quads, I think. I used them 'cause they had a bit of rake and I wanted fins with drive to make up for the shorter rail length.

a360's picture
a360's picture
a360 Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 6:40pm

Has anyone seen themselves on video riding one of these??

enough to go to the nearest bar and think what the fuck did I spend those $$$
to look like a deranged aardvark :-) whilst downing anything with alcohol in it

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 11:34am

I didn't need the video footage, I knew from the start that I looked like a dick on it.

I had mine for about a month and just couldn't make it work. Then after I had skinned my forehead on the sandbank on one occasion and had my head glued back together after a fin cut on the next surf, I figured it wasn't meant to be.

Luckily there is enough hype about this board that I managed to sell it for what it cost.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 7:08pm

I had a FW Baked Potato for about a year, was a really good board in certain waves and not necessarily tiny grovel waves, i actually liked it best when it was waist to head high, had some really good surfs on it and its surprising how high performance it is for such a wide board, It also catches waves and paddles amazing.

So why did i get rid of it, well I'm a huge fan on FW FST construction as there the most durable boards I've ridden and im happy with the feel of them, but you cant get the Baked spud in FST and they only had them in Rapid fire at the time, i got it in white rapid-fire, the first rapid fire tech ive had, i thought the feel was good very similar to PU but durability wise i didn't find them much better than a standard PU board, so once it started going down hill i thought id move it on while it still had value.

I also found going from such a wide board to a standard board kinda threw me and it would take me a surf or two to adapt, plus i was surfing it in waves i could surf a standard board in and if its real grovel stuff i found the reality these days is unless its stinking hot, i will give it a miss .

All that said if i had one in the timbertech construction, id probably have kept it in the quiver just to mix it up every once in a while.

BTW. I messed around heaps with fins the combo i like best was basically any large standard template front fins combined with controller rears (or Indofin copys as was FCS)

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 7:54pm

indo-dreaming wrote:

I also found going from such a wide board to a standard board kinda threw me and it would take me a surf or two to adapt

Yep, found the same ID, though not quite to the extent as some other grovel boards I've ridden. Still, there would be a period of adjustment that causes apprehension when swapping and changing up boards.

reecen's picture
reecen's picture
reecen Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 7:57pm

I creased one of these the first week I had it. To firewires credit they replaced it.
Not a massive fan of the firewires and recently ripped a huge section of the hull out when I just grazed the reef with a fin.
That being said it is pretty much the only board I ride now when it is head and a half and under.
I am sure I look like a deranged aardvark but the thing is so much fun to surf. Hollow indo waves or mushy crap the thing flies, stick the biggest set of fins you can find in it and they fly through turns at a million miles an hour to the point where I was originally getting high sided until I worked it out. Going into turns and the thing would just shoot me flying over the top of it, love doing high speed wraps on it now though and you have to modify where you are doing the turns on the wave.
So easy to paddle and doesn't mind a tube.
I bought it for one foot slop but it is way more versatile then I thought it would be.

happyasS's picture
happyasS's picture
happyasS Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 8:01pm

try it with a nubster. makes it a bit easier to track through a turn and between rails. bit slower but no where near like a thruster. hard board to ride well though I reckon. still more fun than leaving for an early coffee.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 8:54am

Good call. Might get a hold of one.

bobhawke's picture
bobhawke's picture
bobhawke Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 9:52pm

Mate i bought a FW Dominator, same kinda trend as the baked spud . First surf i had was small Ullus... went great even when it started nudging 5 to 6 feet. I found the thruster to be far more fluent than the quad. Anyway I got back home after three weeks ...took it for a paddle and bang i snapped the cunt while duck diving ... WTF! I won't be buying another one. Fuck you fire wire... stick to your local shaper! Tony Abbott sucks cock!

bobhawke's picture
bobhawke's picture
bobhawke Tuesday, 2 Sep 2014 at 9:54pm

Go Freo this sunday!

etarip's picture
etarip's picture
etarip Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 8:48am

Haha, any more Tourette's interjections Bob?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 11:38am

Ha!

tomdo's picture
tomdo's picture
tomdo Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 9:57am

More Firewire advertorial from Swellnet. Disappointing for the local shapers out there...

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 10:09am

Advertorial? We got paid for this...?

Woah, I would've said much nicer things if I knew that.

Clint Wall's picture
Clint Wall's picture
Clint Wall Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 10:47am

Back in the day ( about 82') when kid's moved out of home at 18 and owning one board was the norm, in 1 to 3ft junk we would ride a mates twin fin swallow tail knee board. Kind of the same dimensions as the new fish and potato boards. Hard to get a froth on in junk waves and pushing 50, might have to demo one.

RV's picture
RV's picture
RV Wednesday, 3 Sep 2014 at 11:24am

Own a 5'9" BP and have had a heap of fun on it. After a reasonable amount of experience with it it's easy to imagine going to the smaller size but it fills a void. Also surprised the size it handles (being mindful of what you are riding). Paddles like a dream, but consequently duck diving can mean a beating with all that volume.
Now using TC Redlines front and rear and previously some C-drives which also worked well. Found it was very much about the back fins for me. Only ever ridden as a quad.
Have had 2 x Firewire Rapidfire construction boards, both have compressed fairly extensively under the front foot, but only seem to go so far then slow up or stop. Also find the Rapidfire delaminates quite easily where they do the thick black pin lines especially around the tail from the railsaver and anywhere else you get a bit of a knock.

hovercraft's picture
hovercraft's picture
hovercraft Thursday, 4 Sep 2014 at 9:58am

Makes a nice coffee table.

I rode Kneelo's for about 10 years along time ago and have ridden stand ups pretty much full time for the last 15 years and blimey some of the boards as mentioned above are kneeloesc - minus the fin placement - and even a few fishes now have fins pushed up ala kneelo. But I wonder if this is a good idea for stand ups.

foointhezoo's picture
foointhezoo's picture
foointhezoo Saturday, 6 Sep 2014 at 10:33am

I have owned a baked potato for around 2 and a half years and absolutely love it to the point I would say its a must have for those days you really want to surf but can't because its half a foot and perfect. Have ridden it from 3 foot down and preferably will never ride it in over 2 foot surf again, and really if I'm being honest she is probably more suited to weak point breaks or small weak beach breaks under 2 foot. If its high tide and people are scratching to catch waves be prepared to feel like a wave pig. If its crowded and small and want to catch way more than your share of waves the high volume of the board allows you to take off with the mal's but the blistering speed and acceleration adds the advantage of being able to take off way deeper. I'm just over 6 foot, 88kgs and my standard short board is 6'2" my spud is 5'5" and I probably could ride the 5'3" at the expense of no longer taking off with the mal's. It's definitely not the kind of board you can take off and lay it over on the rail to perform a square bottom turn followed by a hard snap off the top, but that being said it is possible with some careful positioning to do a sharpish bottom turn and a nice little off the top and sometimes she can really take you by surprise, however due to the thickness of the rail she is far more suited to flowing gliding turns.

I have tried a range of quad setups from controllers which I found gave loads of drive but were too directional through turns, then I went to Kinetik Racing Parko Quads which were ok but lacking a little drive in 1 foot waves, then I tried swapping out the fronts with a with Future T1's and then it was too stiff, probably should have tried as a twin with the trailer but didn't. Then eventually I found a set of Kinetik Racing X4 Quads on eBay and for my weight they are amazing. The front fins are XL but not as large as that of a twin side fin and the rears are pretty standard. The BakedSpud or more commonly referred to by my mates as the Hot Potato performs in my opinion at its best with these fins. I have also subbed out the X4 fronts with Kinetik P3 larges and Futures AM 2 TechFlex where in comparison to the X4 fronts lacked drive and hold. My suggestion regarding fins is to use front fins a size larger than those you would normally use in your standard thruster setup and what ever quad rears are recommended for your weight range.

To conclude I don't ride my spud that often but when the need arises I am so happy I have her and am always left with a level of surf stoke that keeps me smiling and laughing for days.

hahnsolo's picture
hahnsolo's picture
hahnsolo Monday, 8 Sep 2014 at 8:27pm

Yep, my long boards actually accelerate thru turns on small waves and pick up speed!! I'm not buying one of these just yet. I have a 7S fish that does the above too but that's another story!